Johannesburg - Somewhere around April 2027, Pholetsi Moseki wants his departure from Cricket South Africa to be celebrated with a party.
Were that to occur, it would be a whole lot different to the exits of many former chief executives of the organisation. Gerald Majola was axed after a Commission of Inquiry, Haroon Lorgat “mutually agreed to part ways” after falling out with the board over the Global League T20, and Thabang Moroe actually partied a whole lot, making grand use of the company credit card in the process, but it was inappropriate and in some senses illegal. Moroe was removed after a forensic audit.
Perhaps the last ‘farewell’ where there were smiles was when Ali Bacher departed in 2000. So Moseki will be going against history if that ‘jol’ in 2027 is going to happen.
Moseki has inherited a mess, not of his own making, but one he at least knows the extent of having been CSA’S acting CEO for the last 15 months. Before then he was the chief financial officer, giving him insight into the financial problems the organisation has and continues to face as it absorbs the challenges created by the Covid pandemic and attempts to right itself in a post pandemic world that’s quite unstable.
All the scandals of the last decade, the inability to get a franchise T20 tournament up and running and the vast amount of money and time spent on it, has seen trust in the organisation evaporate.
Even the reforms and the composition of a new board of directors with a stronger independent element, has only intrigued onlookers and not enthused them. The handling of Black Lives Matter and the fact some of the players didn’t kneel saw the new board step in far too late and do so in a hamfisted manner, leaving Temba Bavuma to carry the can in front of the cricket world last October.
Not recognising the national men’s team’s achievements in beating India in a Test series may seem like a small issue to outsiders, but inside the team it was seen as a mark of disrespect and a sign that some on the board were letting their feelings about Mark Boucher’s impending disciplinary hearing impair their perspective on the team’s performance.
Generally trust amongst the players for the game’s administrators remains low. The chairman of the board, Lawson Naidoo, again made the point this week that Dean Elgar and Temba Bavuma had straight access to him and that Naidoo and lead independent director Steven Budlender make the effort of engaging the two Proteas captains on issues related to the team.
Moseki said the relationship between CSA and the SA Cricketers Association (Saca) was improving after the vexatious period during Moroe’s tenure. The two bodies are close to agreeing to the next Memorandum of Understanding regarding the players’ rights.
“The relationship with Saca and players is a work in progress,” said Moseki. “Our relationship with Saca has improved tremendously from where it was two years ago. Ultimately we all want the same thing, the sustainability of cricket.”
Within CSA, staff morale remains low. Suspensions and axings resulting from the recent scandals, and the resignations of some staff members has left a number of vacancies at executive level that need to be filled in the coming weeks and months.
Speaking on Thursday, Bavuma said he hoped that Moseki’s appointment would help restore confidence in CSA.
“Hopefully it will go a long way in aiding stability from an administrative point of view and also getting that support again from the corporate world.”
Corporate partners like Standard Bank and Momentum withdrew in the wake of the chaos within CSA in 2019. Restoring trust to those kinds of outside entities is critical for Moseki as he seeks to put CSA on a more solid financial footing.
Moseki, whose understanding of the economy is based on his former role as CFO and as an ex-employee of Deutsche Bank, is forthright about the difficulties that CSA will face in a post-pandemic world
“Finance is a priority,” he stated. “The environment has totally changed. The economy is quite tough, getting sponsorships is tough not just for cricket but all sporting codes.”
Cricket SA has struggled in recent years with domestic competitions taking place without title sponsors, while a T20 competition that was to be reminiscent of the Mzansi Super League got scrapped at the last minute because of the pandemic. That competition did have a sponsor, CSA said. It will be important that it is staged next year.
Broadcast rights are not as simple as once was the case, and in South Africa, there is the unique challenge of balancing the finances that can be sourced from satellite broadcaster SuperSport along with the need to have the Proteas on the public broadcaster, which can’t afford to pay fees to CSA. Meanwhile there’s a digital/ streaming world that CSA hasn’t properly accessed either.
“Part of this strategy is to look at the whole ecosystem and try to monetise whatever properties we have, and diversify our revenue streams including sponsorship but also digital programmes. It will take into account where the world is currently,” said Moseki.
One entity oft-talked of, but yet to make money, is the national women’s team. Their stunning improvement in recent world events and the fact that South Africa has bona fide international stars is something that CSA has struggled to tap into properly.
Moseki did claim that the “patriarchal nature of society” made it a challenge for CSA, but it was one he would confront the corporate world with given the popularity of that team, based on the performances at the current World Cup.
Moseki is a technocrat. Not for him the flashy, party world of the Moroe era, or the big promises of Lorgat and the political web built by Majola. He has to start small, but build relatively quickly.
The party at CSA has stopped. It’s been postponed, Moseki hopes, until 2027.